28 Jun Hamstring Injuries
One of the most common sporting injuries that patients experience is a hamstring strain. The hamstring consists of a group of three muscles that run along the back of the thigh, from the hip to just below the knee. These muscles are needed for bending and extending the leg, a motion needed in most high-impact sports such as rugby, football or field hockey. A hamstring injury typically occurs when these muscles are stretched beyond their limit. This can happen when one has to sprint, kick out the leg, constantly needing to quickly accelerate and decelerate, spontaneously having to change direction. There is risk of the injury recurring if the hamstring strain is not treated appropriately and allowed to heal for a sufficient amount of time.
The hamstring can be injured by any of the following:
- Tired muscles due to intense training.
- A direct hit or trauma to the thigh.
- Inadequate warming-up of the muscles ahead of activity.
- Wear and tear of the muscles with age.
- Muscular imbalances in the upper leg.
- Decreased muscle flexibility.
- Not having an appropriate pre-conditioning programme.
- A history of hamstring injuries.
Symptoms of a hamstring strain include:
- a sudden radiating pain experienced at the back of thigh,
- the muscle being painful to touch,
- being unable to bear any weight or walk on the injured leg,
- feeling a bump or knot in thigh area,
- experiencing muscle spasms,
- muscle soreness, especially when trying to bend the knee,
- the muscle feeling tender or becoming swollen,
- muscle stiffness, particularly after a cool-down session, and
- bruising or discolouration along the back of the leg.
Injuries to the hamstrings can be prevented by effectively warming up the body for at least 10 minutes ahead of exercise or sport. This will help with blood flow and promote the loosening and flexibility of the muscles. Taking a light jog before starting your main physical activity will also help to achieve this. Stretching exercises to ease tight and stiff muscles should be done for at least five minutes before and after a sporting event. Eating a well-balanced diet is also important as it allows the body to absorb the nutrients needed to keep the muscles healthy. Maintaining good body strength and having a well thought out conditioning programme will also be helpful in preventing injury.
Hamstring injuries are categorised into three grades:
Grade 1 – a mild muscle pull or strain
Grade 2 – a partial muscle tear
Grade 3 – complete tear of the hamstring muscle
Mild hamstring injuries can be safely treated at home by following the PRICE method below:
Protection: Protect the area from further damage.
Rest: Rest the ankle by avoiding activities that cause pain, swelling and discomfort.
Ice: Place an icepack on the injured area for 15-20 minutes and repeat every 2-3 hours.
Compression: Compress the ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling subsides, be careful not to restrict blood flow.
Elevation: Elevate the ankle to a level above the heart as gravity will assist in reducing the inflammation
However, it is always best to seek professional advice for a correct diagnosis and appropriate recovery plan.
Osteopathy takes a holistic approach to diagnosing, treating and preventing many health problems. Osteopathy focuses on the musculoskeletal system (comprising of the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and tissues of the body) and is a complementary form of treatment that can be used alongside advice from the doctor.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the osteopath will create a suitable stretching, strengthening and conditioning programme. Other techniques, such as massage and lymph drainage, may be used to reduce the swelling. Passive movement techniques are needed
to increase mobility and reduce the formation of scar tissue. An assessment of surrounding muscles and joints including knee, ankle, foot and hip will also be carried out to ensure there were no other predisposing causes for the hamstring strain or for the reoccurrence
of the injury.
At OsteoVision, our team of specialists are always available to assist you and offer advice. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your symptoms, have any questions, would like to book an appointment or require more information about hamstring injuries.
Cleveland Clinic., n.d. Hamstring Injury. [online] Available at: Hamstring Injury [Accessed 15 February 2022].
Mayo Clinic, 2020. Hamstring injury – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: Hamstring Injury [Accessed 15 February 2022].
nhs.uk., 2021. Hamstring injury. [online] Available at:
Small, J., 2019. An Osteopaths’ Guide: Hamstring Strains! – Herts Pain and Injury Clinic. [online] Hertspainandinjury.co.uk. Available at: An osteopaths guide hamstring strains [Accessed 15 February 2022].